Tuesday, 31 March 2009
NEWS FROM UK YOUTH PARLIAMENT
Pound 'clouds' float above Parliament in awareness raising stunt to symbolise growing student debt
‘Clouds’ in the shape of pound symbols were floated over Parliament today, as part of an awareness raising campaign calling for the abolition of university tuition fees.
The pound signs looming over Parliament symbolised the growing burden of student debt, and have been designed to be a clear signal to the Government that they must not lift the fees cap during the up and coming fees review this summer.
James Greenhalgh MYP (Member of Youth Parliament) and Battlefront campaigner who was behind the stunt commented,
“The stunt is designed to symbolise the growing debt that many students face. Students and prospective students are going to struggle even more as a result of the recession. Just like everyone else, their incomes will be squeezed and things are going to be tough; support is being offered to pensioners, to business, the banks, to those struggling with mortgages – pretty much everyone. But not students.”
Bearing in mind the current economic climate, any possible increase in tuition fees would be disastrous.
Greenhalgh - “I firmly believe that education should be free and believe that tuition fees must be scrapped, which is a view shared by the UK Youth Parliament, however, we must unite against any possible proposal by the Government to increase tuition fees during the review this summer”
The clouds were released in advance of a report “Access Denied – the stories the Government don’t want you to hear about tuition fees” researched and created by Greenhalgh which will be delivered tomorrow (1st April) in the House of Commons. The report contains the results of a nationwide student / young people’s consultation, and details the shocking real life stories of a handful of brave young people and their families who are suffering as a direct result of the Higher Education funding system, to highlight the impact the recession and financial strains are having on prospective university students.
Greenhalgh and his colleagues will also be presenting the report to the Prime Minister at Ten Downing Street.
David Blunkett MP, who was the Labour Education Secretary when Tuition fees were introduced commented,
“Whilst it is clear that no Government is going to pull the financial plug on the University sector by simply abolishing fees, it would at this time of financial downturn be unacceptable to lift the cap and have a free-for-all across universities.
"Undoubtedly improvements can be made, including to the bursary system, but the main task must be to avoid fully fledged 'top-up fees' which would lift constraints and result in an unregulated market. We have seen to our cost what this can mean.
"It's absolutely vital, though, that no young person should reject the idea of higher education because they fear running up substantial loans. It always seems daunting at the time, but by the time you reach 40 you realise that, so long as the cap is not drastically lifted, it will have all been worthwhile ... much more so than taking a loan out for a car!"
The stunt was being filmed by Raw Television, for a Channel 4 series called Battlefront which will highlight James’s campaign and be aired in May.
To find out more about the campaign, please visit www.battlefront.co.uk, or visit www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk to view a copy of the report.
Notes to Editors:
1. For a copy of the report, interviews, photographs or comments contact James Greenhalgh on 07812 004 218, or alternatively on 020 7553 9890.
2. Battlefront is a channel 4 education project following 20 Young people with their campaigns, James is one of those campaigners, and his campaigning efforts are being documented in a programme to be shown on Channel 4 TV series to be aired in May.
3. The UK Youth Parliament is a UK- wide elected body of young people comprised of over 300 MYPs (Members of the Youth Parliament). These young people have been directly elected by young people to represent them, both locally (i.e. within their constituency), regionally and nationally.
4. James has been running this campaign for the last 4 years working towards the fees review, and has recently been elected for his fourth term of office as East Stafforshires MYP.
5 The floating cloud logos were created using revolutionary 'flogo' technology. For more info on Flogos visit www.flogos-uk.com